2013 Diamond Creek releases

Serious Napa Cabernet…

So: we haven’t tasted it, and nor has Robert Parker, Antonio Galloni, James Suckling or any of the major critics.  The only taster that we are aware of is John Tilson of the Underground Wineletter.  But when we were offered our allocation it was a very quick decision in the positive.  Maybe a bit of a gamble, but one that we happily put our stake down on.  These are seriously made, serious wines for serious people.

Diamond Creek, founded in 1968, is one of Napa’s old-school vineyards, one that makes decidedly old-school wines.  Founder Al Brounstein reputedly smuggled cuttings from Bordeaux (via Tijuana) and planted approximately 20 acres in three quite discrete plots on the secluded Diamond Mountain, on land that was destined to become a golf course.  Whilst the winery claims to be the first Californian vineyard to be planted exclusively with Cabernet Sauvignon, the smuggled cuttings contained some Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  You can’t deny that, as stories go, it’s a good one.

Brounstein quickly discovered that his three vineyard plots: Gravelly Meadow, Red Rock Terrace and Volcanic Hill were quite different.  Not only do the prevalent temperatures vary, the soil is distinctly different from one to the other, and the three vinyards have been bottles separately from the very beginning: ground-breaking stuff back in the 1970s.

Red Rock Terrace, from iron-rich soils, is the most approachable of the trio.  Gravelly Meadow is the “in the middle” and Volcanic Hill is the most serious, and longest-lived of the three.  In exceptional years Lake vineyard is produced and if any barrels across the range display particularly attractive or exceptional characteristics, they are bottled separately.

This is distinctly artisanal winemaking, crafted by people who are part of the vineyard: Al Brounstein passed in 2006 and the winery is run by his widow and their son.  The last bottle we tasted – 2010 Volcanic Hill – made even the most serious of Bordeaux look a little boring.

So: the 2013 punt.  Herewith John Tilson’s notes on the wines and a link to the Underground Wineletter is below.  When these are scored the usual suspects will no doubt be touting them.  We’d rather put our money on horses we believe in ourselves….

2013 Diamond Creek, Red Rock Terrace
GBP 625 per case (6x75cl)

“Dark in color this wine has a deep perfume and lots of fruit. It is elegant, yet with intensity and lots of flavor with great purity. There is an underlying brightness to the fruit which gives the wine a marvelous sense of harmony. Surely this is a great Red Rock Terrace in the making – Exceptional Potential.”

2013 Diamond Creek, Gravelly Meadow
GBP 625 per case (6x75cl)

“Wow! This is a really great Gravelly Meadow. It is very dark in color and has a stunning perfume showing a myriad of black fruits. It is supple and rounded with great intensity and lots of flavor and richness. It will age effortlessly and gain increasing complexity over a decade or more evolve into something truly magical – Exceptional Potential.”

2013 Diamond Creek, Volcanic Hill
GBP 625 per case (6x75cl)

“Very dark in color this is classic Volcanic Hill with a subtle perfume and soaring fruit and intensity on the palate. It is beautifully balanced with beautifully integrated soft tannins and a long lingering finish. This is a wine that should be phenomenal in a decade or two and keep for an extremely long time – Exceptional Potential.”

John Tilson’s article on the 2013 Diamond Creek releases, plus some excellent stuff on the history of the vineyard can be found here.

In the meantime please do get in touch if you would like to discuss these further.